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Environ Sci Technol. 2009 Aug 1;43(15):5915-20.

A nano-selenium reactive barrier approach for managing mercury over the life-cycle of compact fluorescent lamps.

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Division of Engineering, and Institute for Molecular and Nanoscale Innovation, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA.


Compact fluorescent lamps contain small quantities of mercury, release of which can lead to human exposures of potential concern in special cases involving multiple lamps, confined spaces, or young children. The exposure scenarios typically involve solid lamp debris that slowly releases elemental mercury vapor to indoor spaces. Here we propose and demonstrate a reactive barrier approach for the suppression of that mercury release, and demonstrate the concept using uncoated amorphous nanoselenium as the reactive component. Multilayer structures containing an impregnated reactive layer and a mercury vapor barrier are fabricated, characterized, and evaluated in three exposure prevention scenarios: carpeted break sites, disposal/recycling bags, and boxes as used for retail sales, shipping, and collection. The reactive barriers achieve significant suppression of mercury release to indoor spaces in each of thethree scenarios. The nanoselenium barriers also exhibit a unique indicator function that can reveal the location of Hg contamination by local reaction-induced change in optical properties. The article also presents results on equilibrium Hg vapor pressure above lamp debris, mathematical modeling of reaction and transport processes within reactive barriers, and landfill stability of nanoselenium and its reaction products.

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